black and white image of a medical stethoscopeToday we will address another in our series of Bill 148 client questions. Over the last two weeks we have tackled a question related to the new vacation entitlements and one about the entitlements of salaried workers to the Three Hour Rule. This weeks’ question addresses one of the most talked about changes in the Employment Standards Act Personal Emergency Leave. For a more in depth look at Personal Emergency Leave check out our post from January.

We designed our Bill 148 webinar series to help our employer clients get acquainted with the significant changes introduced by the Bill 148 amendments. We will also be shortly issuing an Employer’s Guide to Bill 148, an ebook which will cover these changes in depth.

Q: Is a short term, seasonal employee (such as a summer student employee) entitled to all ten days of Personal Emergency Leave?

A: Yes. Ten days may seem like a lot if you have an employee, such as a student, who will only be working for eight weeks, but ANY employee is entitled to this leave.

Personal Emergency Leave, under s.50 of the Employment Standards Act entitles any employee to a ten day leave of absence (two paid days and eight unpaid days) for the following reasons:

  1. A personal illness, injury or medical emergency.
  2. The death, illness, injury or medical emergency of an individual described in subsection (2).
  3. An urgent matter that concerns an individual described in subsection (2).

Subsection (2) details a list of individuals from the employee’s spouse to the step-grandparent of the employee’s spouse – basically the leave can be taken with respect to any of the employee’s or the employee’s spouse’s relatives.

There is no requirement that the leave be accrued over a year, as with vacation for example, and the leave is not pro-rated. Part-time and seasonal employees are all entitled to 10 days of Personal Emergency Leave per year.

The only limitation on this is that an employee must be employed for one week or longer before they are entitled to their two paid days of leave. However, an employee could theoretically get a job, take the first week as five days of unpaid Personal Emergency Leave, collect their two days of paid leave the following week and use the last of their three unpaid days to finish up the week.

Employers are restricted by s.50(13) from requiring that an employee making use of their Personal Emergency Leave time to provide a note from a doctor, nurse or psychologist.

This new entitlement, and the evidence restrictions, have the potential to cause some tricky workplace situations. If you need help understanding how to comply with the changes to the law, or navigating a leave situation in your workplace, we’d be pleased to assist.